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bierblog: June 2005 Archives

June 14, 2005

the great fierly ball of death

This past sunday the biergotter gang got together for another brewing session, our first using our shiny new 15 gallon converted keg kettles. on the menu for the day was a re-vamp of our last american style ipa, updated for 10 gallons and more aggressive hopping, and a 10 gallon scottish ale.

the day started off ok. everyone arrived at tim's at 9am and we started getting setup. it was fairly warm and quite humid, but overcast with bursts of light rain. i commented that it'd be great if that was the weather we got for the rest of the day as the slight rain was counteracting the heat. however, soon after this the clouds cleared and the great fiery ball of death began to beat down on us. before long tim's back yard was starting to feel like an oven. it seems like the stone patio just reflects and radiates the heat, making it worse. at one point around the middle of the day I looked at our thermometer as it was laying on the railing of the deck and it was reading 122F (50C). in case you are unaware, that translates to "really fucking hot". add in the approximately 89% humidity and it was deadly. fortunately we had 4 brewers (me, rob, jayc, and tim) to split the work, so before long we were taking turns with having breaks in the air conditioned house for some relief. we also had the biergotter wives (jenn, piera and erin) making sure we had sunscreen on and were drinking lots of water. even so, it was difficult to stay hydrated, and even wearing sunblock i still managed to get burned. i was wearing sandals and didn't put sunblock on my feet until it was too late, so today has been pretty uncomfortable. my arms and neck are a bit tender, but nowhere near as bad as my feet. this is the second time i've had a burn on my feet (the first was in hawaii on my honeymoon) and it really sucks some serious ass. i definitely do not recommend it. oh well, hopefully they'll be feeling better in a couple days.

as for the brewing itself, it went fairly well. we've gone up from doing 5 gallon batches to 10-11 gallons (with a maximum capacity of about 30 pounds of grain per batch using our current equipment). the new kettles worked great and even seemed to have improved things in a few ways. first, because they heat slower it seems to be easier to get the temperature just right for boiling and avoid boil overs. second, the inner lip on the top made it super easy to cover with saran wrap while chilling the beer. normally we have to tape the saran down to the sides of the pot, which can be a pain to remove later. tucking the saran around the lip seemed to work great and no tape was necessary. we also used bags for the hops rather than throwing them directly into the boil. This worked pretty well and also gave us a bit higher yield as we didn't lose quite as much when transferring to the primary. however, the higher volumes too longer to get up to temperature, which made the day a bit longer. we also ran into a bit of trouble with our wort chiller. we're used to using it in a pot that is roughly the same size as the coil, which works fairly well. however, when we dropped it down into the keg kettle it didn't seem to be working very well. we'd test the temperature near the top of the kettle and see it as very high, and not seeming to drop. after about an hour we realized that the bottom half of the keg was very cold and the top half was still quite hot. since the pot wasn't being stirred the top wasn't getting cold. we propped up the chiller so that it was sitting in the top half of the the keg, gave it another half hour or so and everything was great. when it came time to chill the second batch we did roughly the same thing, which worked fairly well but is still much slower than when we'd chill the 5 gallon batches. we're debating better cooling, either with a chiller that is taller and can go the full height of the keg or buying/building a counter flow chiller (something like this one sold by paddock). we've got a while before our next bewing session so i'm sure we'll figure something out.

when we were finally done it had been more than a 10 hour day (9am to 7:15pm), yielding about 10 gallons of the american style ipa and 8 or 9 gallons of the scottish ale. lets hope the beer is worth our scorching by the great fiery ball of death.

we were taking photos throughout the day, but they tapered off as we started getting deadly hot. enjoy!

the lauder tun and it's inner copper piping and one of the converted kegs.

burners and the other keg kettle, ready to go.

mmmm....29.5# of grain goodness. this was the grain for the IPA.

getting the first batch of water up to temp.

more water on the burner.

protein rest for the ipa, and everyone enjoying the (still cool) morning. we have (from left to rigth) rob, piera, jenn, and tim.


me (russ) adding the second batch of water for the IPA and jayc taking stirring duties.

jay checking temperatures.

no idea what i was doing here...

rob hard at work grinding grain for the scottish ale.

checking temps on the ipa. jay's having a fun time with stirring: note the bend on the spoon in the second photo. we're going to see about getting a nice stainless one.

the boys doing some fine poses.

jenn and piera making up some potato salad for lunch (it was tasty!).

checking the temp for the first batch of water for the scottish ale.

adding the first batch of water for the scottish ale. note me cleverly bracing the keg with my foot. good thing that the guys have good aim...

time to stir. at this point we were still smiling...it wasn't too hot yet.

second batch of water for the scottish ale.

getting the scottish ale up to temp

bit of a gap in the photos...this is rob loading up the tun for the ipa.

me keeping an eye on the scottish ale

mmm...grainy goodness. you can see that the 29.5 pounds of grian in the ipa pretty much fills our current tun.

the ipa on for the boil. you can sort of see the coat hanger all bent up and hanging over the top. that's holding the hop bags, making it easier for us to pull them out for the additions along the way.

couple photos of the thermometer in the afternoon. still registering over 100F...

the IPA cooling...

scottish ale on for the boil. around this point we stopped bothering wtih the camera altogether. it was just too damn hot and we were more concerned with not baking in the sun and getting the beer done.

Posted by grub at 11:26 PM

June 7, 2005


just testing the setup of the bierblog.
Posted by grub at 11:39 PM

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